CHICAGO -- With the White Sox returning to a five-man rotation, Philip Humber will be pitching out of the bullpen for the foreseeable future.
But don't try to tell the right-hander that this move is some kind of demotion.
"That's disrespectful to the guys who are in the bullpen to say, 'I'm good enough to start,'" said Humber. "Well, I'm hoping I'm good enough to be in the bullpen. That's the attitude I take as far as whatever role I'm given, whenever they give me the ball, I'm going to do the best I can with it.
"Like I told [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] the other day, 'If this is something that you guys think is best for the team, then I want to do it because I think our team is really good.' Every day I see something else that's, 'Man, that's another sign of a really good team.' I want to be a part of it in any way that they allow me to be because I think we're going a long way this year."
In order to give first-year starter Chris Sale and rookie Jose Quintana extended rest between starts, the White Sox briefly employed a six-man rotation after acquiring Francisco Liriano from the Twins on July 28. Sale worked Monday with nine days between starts, while Quintana will have eight days when he takes the mound on Wednesday.
Those long rest periods might become a thing of the past as the White Sox go to the whip over the season's final two months. Humber will be able to spot start, while Hector Santiago also is being stretched out at Triple-A Charlotte, getting his second start at Indianapolis on Wednesday.
"Listen, every role is important. There are no [garbage] innings," Cooper said. "We want them all filled with as much quality as we can get. We're lucky to have six starters. We're lucky to put one of those guys in the bullpen right now because we got a guy who can give us innings and it's going to take a bit of the load off somebody."
Playing close games, with the last seven contests decided by no more than two runs, have put more wear and tear on the bullpen than going with one less reliever in the six-man setup. Humber, who threw a perfect game on April 21 in Seattle but has allowed 59 earned runs in his last 73 2/3 innings pitched, will provide bullpen assistance.
"With having Phil down in the bullpen, you do have flexibility that if you need to he can start any time in case that you need a Major League arm," manager Robin Ventura said. "He's the best guy for it. It helps us a lot in the flexibility."
"Mentally, there have been some things I've come along out of the ordinary, and the results I've gotten on the field at times have been very frustrating to me," Humber said. "But nobody cares more than I do and wants to succeed when I go out there. I put as much effort as I possibly can to be good at what I'm doing."
Ventura promotes freedom, communication
CHICAGO -- In talking about handling a pitching staff as a first-time manager and specifically first-year starter Chris Sale, White Sox skipper Robin Ventura gave an interesting look into his managerial style. Simply put, there will be no punishment for miscues during his regime.
"I don't want these guys to play tight," Ventura said. "I want them to play hard enough that they can feel free to make a mistake and it sounds odd to be able to say that. But to play well, you have to have the freedom to also make a mistake."
There also needs to be a true open line of communication. Veteran hurler Jake Peavy appreciates that aspect of Ventura and his staff in regard to pitchers admitting when they might need a little break.
"As long as you trust the people you're speaking with, that you can tell them the truth and you can talk through things, you can certainly do that," Peavy said. "If you leave it up to the player, a lot of times the player is going to push through stuff that maybe you shouldn't push through. But if you had a player who didn't do that, you'd also question that player's makeup.
"So there's not a whole lot of winning there. I was in that boat the last few years. If you're out there and you do OK, you're tough and you're a gamer. But if you get hurt while you're out there doing that, you should have been smart and said something about it. If you're out there hurt and just not doing well, you shouldn't be out there.
"It's a tough spot to be in," Peavy said. "At the same time, the White Sox are in such a good position with the coaching staff to the front office to us players. There's an open line, and all of us can be an open book and talk through things. You watch the way John Danks was handled, you watch the way [Jose] Quintana and Sale have been handled, and myself. It has been nice to see because that certainly hasn't been the case at times, probably in most organizations."
Peavy not alone in Comeback category
CHICAGO -- Jake Peavy didn't really know how to respond Monday when he was mentioned along with teammates Adam Dunn and Alex Rios as top candidates for Comeback Player of the Year. But Tuesday's starter for the White Sox knows what consideration for such an honor means about your most recent performance.
"I don't think anybody wants to be in that category because if you're in the category of Comeback Player of the Year, you obviously had a major injury or had a disappointing year," Peavy said. "I know me, Alex and Adam have talked about that and it's an honor when you're being talked about to win the award."
Peavy takes a 9-7 record and 3.04 ERA into Tuesday's contest with the Royals, and admits that these three White Sox veterans had to pick things up for the South Siders to have a playoff chance in 2012.
"Hopefully, I was healthy enough to be able to do what I can do and Adam was going to have to have a year like he's had for 10 of his 11 years and Alex was going to have to do the same," Peavy said. "And we all just kind of took it upon ourselves. We've been a great supportive unit for each other. Whichever way that shakes out as far as the award goes, I can promise you this: None of us are worried about that award."
Third to first
Center fielder and leadoff hitter Alejandro De Aza was scratched from Monday's starting lineup with tightness in his back. Jordan Danks replaced De Aza, who was 12-for-27 over his last six games and had 99 starts this season.
Francisco Liriano has a bruise above his right knee after being struck by Maicer Izturis' fifth-inning grounder during Sunday's 4-2 victory over the Angels. But manager Robin Ventura said the left-hander is fine to make his start on Saturday.
Major League Baseball announced Monday that Joe Torre, executive vice president for baseball operations, denied the formal protest filed by the Angels over Friday's game at U.S. Cellular Field. The play in question was Paul Konerko's first-inning grounder to third baseman Alberto Callaspo with the bases loaded and nobody out, which turned into a force out at the plate.
Catcher Chris Iannetta's ensuing throw to first pulled Albert Pujols off the bag to keep the bases loaded with one out. Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued that Konerko ran inside the baseline during his last 45 feet to first and should have been ruled out for interference. The White Sox are 25-17 against the American League Central, 51-14 when scoring four runs or more and 52-25 when hitting at least one home run. White Sox pitchers have limited opponents to a .151 average with runners in scoring position over their last 12 games. Relievers have a 1.15 ERA over the last 14 games. Paul Konerko is tied with Darrell Evans for 46th place on the all-time list with 414 home runs.